The Journey to Become a Charity Runner – Interview with Quy Nguyen, aka the Rabbit





I met Quy at the 2018 California International Marathon although I had followed her long before on Strava – a social media platform for athletes. I knew she was a good runner but more than that she was a runner with a big heart; she belongs to the San Jose Vietnamese Running Club (SJVRC), whose members are known as charity runners and they all run with a mission.

Her real name is Quy Nguyen, aka Quy SJ since she’s from San Jose, also not to be confused with another runner with the same name – Quy Nguyen from Orange County aka Quy OC.  Quy SJ is also called the Rabbit because of her blazing speed. At the 2018 CIM the rabbit ran fast enough to qualify for the 124th Boston Marathon, which was supposed to take place on 4/20/2020 and now scheduled for 9/14/2020.

When I contacted SJVRC Chairman Luong Le and asked him to recommend a female runner to feature in Chay365 spotlight, he referred me to Quy the Rabbit without hesitation. According to Luong, Quy is a full-time mom, full-time Program Director, and full-time SJVRC Treasurer/Volunteer. She is very committed to the club mission/vision to run for the less fortunate children in Viet Nam and she trained very hard to get to where she is today. It also happened that Quy just finished running 140 miles that week and placed on top of the SJVRC leaderboard.

It is my pleasure to introduce to our audience Quy the rabbit and her journey to become one of the best charity runners in Northern California. Without further ado, let’s get to know this 45-year-old female runner…



BV: Thank you for accepting the interview. How are you coping with the Stay-at-home order in California?

QN: Shelter in Place (SIP) was definitely a scary and challenging time with sudden work schedule changes and school closures. I needed to make some adjustments to adapt. I have been able to work from home the past 7 weeks and I am continuing to support my daughters with distance learning.  In a crisis like this, we all have to make some changes and do our best to support with SIP and wait for the quarantine to be over.


BV: Tell us about yourself, your family, your job, etc.


QN: I come from a family of 8 siblings; I grew up with 7 brothers.  I lived in Monterey, CA and after graduation from High School in 1992, I was accepted to San Jose State University and my parents then decided to move to San Jose.  I currently work for a nonprofit company supporting my local community and families with early child education.

I am married to my husband Thong Nguyen and we have 2 lovely daughters (Evelyn & Mekayla). My day to day routine consists of running, working, and being outdoors.  My favorite activity is spending time at the beach listening to the sounds of the waves and watching the sunset.

Quy with family


BV: Where were you born? When did you come to the States? Where did you settle before moving to San Jose, CA


QN; I was born in Da Nang, Vietnam and I left my native country at a very young age.  My family and I came to the US in 1980.  At a young age, I was able to attend Kindergarten, Middle School and High School in Monterey, CA.  After graduating high school in May of 1992, I was accepted to San Jose State University to attend college. My mom decided to move the rest of the family to San Jose in the summer of 1992.


BV: I’ve been following you on Strava and noticed you have a whole bunch of tags, from which, one can easily figure that you’re running for a charity. Tell us about it.


QN: Back in April of 2017 after my run from Los Gatos, I made a quick stop to the store. Coincidently, someone approached me and introduced me to the SJVRC running club and asked if I would be interested in meeting the members.  I thought, sure why not!  This is how I had crossed paths with SJVRC #OneMile4OneChild. As a new person joining the organization, I eventually understood the mission of the Club after meeting Tara Dang and Chairman Luong Le.  Not only am I running to stay healthy, but I can run and support others in need by doing charity and raising fund to help the orphanages.



BV: You often referred to PRAYER4ASIANA in your runs. Can you elaborate?


QN: Let’s just say this is how my journey of crossing paths with SJVRC started.  The person who introduced me to the Club back in April of 2017 was Charlie Bui and his 9 years old daughter Asiana. They share the love of running and doing community work which captivated my interest in checking out the organization. She was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy (F.I.R.E.S) in the Fall of 2017.  Through this, I refer all my runs to PRAYER4ASIANA.  I want to dedicate my run and send good thoughts and a prayer for her.

Runs for Asiana


BV: Now let’s talk about the SJVRC OneMile4OneChild. Describe this organization and what’s your role in it.


QN: SJVRC OneMile4OneChild is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.  It was founded in September 2016 by Luong Le and a small group of runners who ran casually on a weekly basis.  We have over 500 members and are expanding domestically and internationally.  Our vision –One Mile for One Child – and our mission is to motivate and foster its members a way to develop healthy lifestyles while creating an opportunity to give back to the community through volunteering and fundraising to support the less fortunate children of Vietnam– our Slogan “for charity, for fun, we run!”  We meet every Sunday morning around 7:00 am at Silver Creek Road in San Jose near the Starbucks parking lot to promote and run with our members.  Also, every year we host our Annual Charity Run 5K/10K and we are hoping to add on a 1-mile run for the upcoming Annual Race in 2020.

Currently my role in SJVRC as a Board Member is holding the treasurer position and working along with Luong Le and other core members with finances and expenses.  Otherwise, on a day to day basis, I continue to promote our organization through family and friends. I enjoy promoting and inspiring healthier lives through running and supporting the community with volunteering in charities.

One Mile for One Child


BV: Explain to us how one can contribute to your charity? Many people would like to donate and write it off their tax. Is that possible?


QN: Anyone who wishes to join our organization is welcome.  Our SJVRC vision is #OneMile4OneChild.  We run for a cause and 100% of the net proceeds will go directly to improve the quality of life for underprivileged orphans in Vietnam and supporting the community with disasters and crisis.  Anyone who wishes to donate can visit us at or email us at Any donation can be done online or with a check.  Your donation can be used as a tax write off and tax documentation can be provided.


BV: The SJVRC also schedules trips to Vietnam to allow its members participate in charity events and running the marathon in VN at the same time. You had gone on one of those trips, could you briefly describe your experience?


QN: SJVRC tries to schedule trips to Vietnam to allow members to participate in charity events as well as participate in running the marathon at the same time.  As a member I am grateful to have joined the charity trip and to have gained many memorable experiences visiting different places and supporting many rural areas in Vietnam.  For me, it’s priceless and honorable to be in the moment and contribute to the mission of our organization. The most rewarding part of the charity’s yearly timeline and schedule is also running the DaNang International Marathon.  Being able to go back to Vietnam to do charity work and run the marathon was a very memorable experience for me.  That was my very first time going back to my native land since we left the country.  I always had intentions of going back but joining SJVRC had quickened my thoughts of returning.  I was able to meet my first cousins and introduced them to our organization and they joined and participated along with SJVRC charity missions. Our charity missions trip allowed me to appreciate and value why I continue to run and continue to support the less fortunate children in Vietnam.

At an orphanage in Vietnam


2018 DaNang International Marathon


BV: Now, let’s talk about your running. Please fill out the below…


  • Number of Years Running: 23 years
  • Began Running Because/To: I began running back in college when a friend of mine asked me to run and tag along…..
  • I Knew I Was Hooked When: In 1997, when I started running it was difficult. However as the years passed by, I found myself enjoying it more.  I love outdoor running and seeing the beauty of nature, which allows me to feel relaxed and more refreshed to begin my morning—this everyday thing-became my “cup of coffee”.
  • Most Satisfying Race Performance(s): Los Angeles Marathon
  • Favorite Race(s): Big Sur International Marathon: breathtaking scenery from beginning to end.
  • Favorite Place(s) to Run: A few of my favorite training places would be Piedmont, Hellyer Coyote Creek Trail, Almaden Lake & Campbell Los Gatos Trail.
  • Running Partner(s): My fellow SJVRC members and the Piedmont Warriors long run team.
  • If I Could Go on a Social Training Run With Any Other Persons, Dead or Alive: If I can run with someone, I would run with my dearly loved and missed Mother, who passed away almost 14 years ago.
  • Funniest or Oddest Thing I’ve Seen While Running: The oddest and funniest thing I have seen while running is “When you got to go, you got to go”
  • One Piece of Advice That I Would Give to a New Runner: A piece of advice that I would give to a new runner would be “Never Give up and Anything is Possible!” and also: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you” by Fred Devito.
  • Other Sports & Interests: Besides running, I enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, biking, camping, and working out.
  • Favorite Reads: The “Love Story” novel and Home Magazine.
  • Favorite Pre-race Meal: Spaghetti/Pasta
  • Dream Vacation: Bahamas

BV:  Do you follow any specific training plan?


QN: I follow the 18-week Training Plan that was given to me back in 2018.  I use it as a template and I tweak it as needed during my training.


BV: You actively participate in the Wednesday speed runs organized by coach Quang Nguyen aka Spidey. Can you share with us how that goes? What type of speed sessions do you all do?


QN: I am grateful that Coach Spidey hosts the Wednesday track run.  Without the speed works, I would have struggled in maintaining my marathon goal.  I remember coming out on the first day, feeling a little intimidated because I was scared I wouldn’t survive the workout.  It looked challenging when I was observing other runners huffing and puffing on their sets.  After consistently attending Coach Spidey weeks after weeks on track, I saw the benefit of build-in speed runs.  Every Wednesday with Coach Spidey we would do 1-2 mile warm up, 4×200 warm up and then 10×400.  Every week the session would increase to 8×800, and Coach would increase it week by week till race day.

Support Coach Spidey at Kona Ironman Championship


BV: Your road to Boston Marathon wasn’t easy. You came so close to run Boston Marathon 2019, it must be a disappointing moment. Then you bounced back and qualified for Boston 2020 with a huge cushion. However, Boston Marathon 2020 hasn’t happened yet. It’s quite a roller coaster experience for you. Tell us about it.


QN: Back in 2018 when I begin started the training to aim qualification for Boston Marathon definitely it was not an easy road to ride.  With literally so much trainings I felt my legs were fatigued.  I didn’t know that Boston was so hard to qualify for. With aiming for the 2019 Santa Rosa Marathon time of 3:53:21, I thought I would earn a slot to run.  Keeping in mind, the qualify time was 3:55 but I did not buffer enough cushion to get a slot. Waiting for the application process and receiving an email at the end that I didn’t make it to run Boston was heartbreaking.   My purpose of trying to run for Boston in 2019 was to dedicate the run to my friend Gregory who had passed away from ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  He was also a marathon runner and running Boston was on his bucket list.  Not earning the slot to run Boston was a huge disappointment, but my journey to make it to Boston is not over and I knew that with MOTIVATION and DETERMINATION I would make it there some day.  Back to my drawing board, I continued to train and registered for races to aim for Boston Qualification. With hard work and determination, the race at CIM in 2018 gave me enough cushion to earn a slot for 2020 Boston that would have taken place in April 20, 2020.  However, with the COVID-19 pandemic the event had to be postponed to September 14th. Life is a roller coaster… I take it as it comes.  It would be nice for all the Qualifiers to run Boston on September 14th.  If not, then I will look forward to applying for the 2021 Boston Marathon and hopefully to use my Los Angeles Marathon time of 3:42:51.
BV: A few weeks ago, you ran 140 miles in one week. That is quite a feat. Come to think of it, that’s running 20 miles a day for 7 consecutive days. How did you manage to do that?


QN: My goal was to try and run another 100 miles that week but while my mind was set, my legs didn’t seem to listen. 100 miles a week is not an easy task to do.  Previously, after a few week of slowly increasing my mileages from a 40ish mile a week to 60, 70 and eventually 100.  It takes a lot of commitment, thriving and determination. I literally set my mind and consistently told myself that “I CAN DO IT” and all I have to do is execute and follow through with my commitment.  To get all my mileage in I had a plan in mind, knowing that I couldn’t do it all in one run.  I strategized and split my run into two sessions a day.  One in the early morning and one in the evening.   With every run I had to take in proper nutrition and recovery shakes.  Also, a big thanks to Herbal life24 & and lot of foam rolling☺.  Nothing is easy, but if you put your mind into it and follow through you can achieve it.  As for me, I am a self-driven and a go getter.  Running helps me to destress, reflect, refill my bucket, and stay fit and healthy.  I admire all the great athletes out there.  Regardless if you walk, run, bike, or swim – continue to do what makes you happy and stay true to your values.


BV: On the average, currently how many miles do you run per week?


QN: On average I put in 40-50 miles a week.  My running day is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday.  Saturday is usually my long run.
BV: How do you manage to run those many miles with your busy schedule?


QN: If I plan to run 100 miles, I have to get up early in the morning to run before I start my work.  After prepping dinner for my family, I would execute my second run in the evening. To keep it all in perspective it’s a balance of work and family life.  Happy Family, Happy Runner!



BV: Do you train mostly by yourself or with a running group?


QN: Before joining SJVRC, I had always trained by myself.  With no focus of mile or pace.  Just run. With SJVRC there are varies of combinations. There are times that I meet up with friends at a park or trail to run together but we run our own pace. On track day, we meet up with Coach Spidey and start together and eventually run at our given time/pace and try and hold onto the pace.  There are also times that I would run by myself to keep up with my training plan.

SJVRC Group Run

BV: Is there anything that you can share with the audience? For example, training (speed work, long run, easy run, volume, etc.), nutrition, sleep, etc.


QN: Keep on running! Or do something that you love. One of my favorite quotes by Fred Devito is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” I believe that with proper trainings, it will take you where you want to be.  Regardless of how fast or slow we run, remember to take it slow and slowly increase your capacity as your body is ready for it.  I didn’t run fast overnight!  Take it one day at a time and most importantly, remember to take care of your body.  With all the running I have put in the last 3 years non-stop, I often didn’t take enough time to rest, or listen to my body. I didn’t take enough nutrition to recover.  I learned that it’s critical to treat my body well, that way I can continue to keep running and stay healthy.



BV: Do you emphasize on cross training?


QN: Of course! I would recommend to do cross training such as biking, elliptical machines, and working out.  It helps to build, develop and sustain other muscles of our body to build strength.


BV: What is your next goal in running as well as in doing charity?


QN: Running and Charity will continue to be embedded into my day to day life.  Continuing to run and bring awareness to others is a great passion of mine.  I plan to continue to support SJVRC and contribute to charity events.  When the opportunity allows me to, I would love to go back to Vietnam and do more charity work with SJVRC.  Besides running the Boston Marathon, I would like to run the Chicago Marathon and hopefully to have the opportunity to run the 6 Major Marathons in any way I can.


  • Quy’s Recent Accomplishments:

2012 San Jose Rock and Roll 2:23

2012 Vegas RockNRoll Marathon 5:30

2018 Big Sur International Marathon 4:11:31

2018 Santa Rosa Marathon 3:53:21

2018 San Jose Rock N Roll 1:41:36

2018 CIM 3:44:02 (BQ 2020)

2019 Big Sur International Marathon 4:07:10

2019 Santa Rosa ½ Marathon 1:39:32

2020 Los Angeles Marathon  3:42:51 (BQ 2021)